Daytona Shootout: Kevin Harvick preview

Kevin Harvick Conquering his uncharted territory. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 4, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has conquered almost everything there is to do when it comes to competing in NASCAR's three major series. He's won a ...

Kevin Harvick
Conquering his uncharted territory.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 4, 2003) - GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick has conquered almost everything there is to do when it comes to competing in NASCAR's three major series. He's won a truck race, Busch races, a Busch championship, Winston Cup races, and rookie titles in both the Busch and Winston Cup Series. There is one event, however, that has eluded the 27-year old Bakersfield, Calif., native and that's the Bud Shootout.

All that changed on the fourth of July last year, under the lights at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Qualifying for the Pepsi 400, the season's second event at the famous 2.5-mile superspeedway, Harvick busted a lap of 48.638-seconds to secure his first Winston Cup Series pole. It was a shining moment for Harvick, whose 2002 season was fraught with ups and downs.

Entering its 25th year of existence in 2003, the Bud Shootout is the season's first non-points event that kicks off two weekends of speed in Daytona Beach, Fla. Eligible drivers must have captured a Bud pole position in 2002, or be a previous Shootout champion. There will be 15 drivers competing in this year's Shootout, which will take place under the lights for the first time on Saturday, February 8, 2003.

Harvick hopes to make his debut in the 70-lap clash a memorable one, conquering the territory for the first time with a just-for-fun reverse paint scheme and a new 2003 No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo. In his mind, he knows he's capable of accomplishing the feat, and what a great start to the New Year a win would be.

No. 29 GM Goodwrench driver Kevin Harvick on The Bud Shootout...

This will be your first time running in the Bud Shootout. What do you know about it?

"Not much really. I know you get to drink free beer if you win. It's pretty much an all or nothing type of thing. You go out there, run as fast as you can, and hope you're up front at the end. There's no points involved, so it's nice to race as hard as you can and not have to worry about it hurting you down the line."

Is it important to run well, even though it's a non-points event?

"Yes, I think so. First off, it's a great way to get some race practice in before qualifying and the big one the next weekend. Also, everyone is in it to win, whether there are points involved or not, because this race kicks off our season. It's a big race, and to win the thing would definitely get the ball rolling for the GM Goodwrench team."

What is your first impression of racing at Daytona?

"Pretty simple. Restrictor-plate racing at its best. Dodge the big wreck and you should have a chance to win, or at least come away with a good finish."

Talk about why you're here - your first Winston Cup pole.

"Being that I got the pole at Daytona, I feel it was more the team that deserves all the credit, not me. At superspeedways like that, I just get in the car and do the same thing each qualifying lap. I actually wish I had a little more to do with it, like at Atlanta or Charlotte, some place where the driver has a little more part in it. It was a pretty special pole for all of us. Not only was it my first Winston Cup pole, but it was our first pole together as a team. We had recently swapped crews with the 31, and I think it (pole) got the 29 guys pumped up."

Does the extra bit of racing help remove the rust of the off-season?

"I think it definitely does. After four tests, you're ready to go out and see how the car is going to react around other cars on the track. You can only learn so much from testing, and after a while you need times like this to make sure you're going in the right direction. It's really when you get in the action with cars around you that you know it's time to go racing again. All we can do is hope we're ready. Honestly, I've never felt as prepared for a season as I do this year. I know everybody at RCR has done everything in their power to get ready for 2003."

The late Dale Earnhardt won this event six times in an RCR car, any pressure?

"No, not for me. The way I look at that, things have changed so much in the past couple of years at RCR that you can't look at it like that anymore. We need to be looking towards what happens in 2003 and beyond, then make distinctions using those records."

Do you like the unusual qualifying format for the 500?

"To tell you the truth, I'm not that big a fan of it. It makes for a long two weekends of racing that could easily be pushed into one. However, I understand that NASCAR is trying to make an effort to build excitement around the biggest race of our season. The change in the way we qualify just makes it a little more fun for the fans. Hopefully, I'll qualify as good or better than I did last year. That way I won't have to worry about running well in the Twin 125s."

Points of Interest...

* Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc. won six Bud Shootouts with Dale Earnhardt since the inception of the non-points event in 1979. (1980,1986,1988,1991,1993,1995)

* Four of those wins kicked off championship seasons for the dynamic duo, in 1980, 1986, 1991, and 1993.

* Start time for Saturday night's Bud Shootout is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST. TV coverage of the 70-lap event on FOX starts at 8:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 7:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

-rcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kevin Harvick
Teams Richard Childress Racing